The Wild Horses of the Bahamas

June 1, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Things To Do

Abaco Barb sculpture

Sculpture of Capella, an Abaco Barb stallion. Photo courtesy of David Blaine via Flickr.

Often found foraging in the pine forests, the Abaco Barbs are a rare and endangered breed of wild horses living on the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas.

The Abaco Barbs were originally bred from Barbary horses native to the North Coast of Africa and later crossed with Spanish breeds before arriving in the Caribbean. They’re known for having great speed, stamina, intelligence and the ability to survive under extreme conditions.

It’s believed that the Abaco Barbs were first brought to the Caribbean aboard Spanish ships in the late 15th or early 16th century, although it’s not known if they arrived directly to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas or if they were later brought to the Bahamas from Cuba. The destruction of the forests and subsequent development of the Abaco Islands have weighed heavily on their survival.

Sadly, the few remaining Abaco Barbs in the Bahamas are the last of a once mighty herd and teetering on the brink of extinction. The wild horses of the Bahamas have been relocated to a government established preserve on the island of Great Abaco where they continue to exist in the wild, free to roam and forage at will. The Abaco Wild Horse Preserve is supported by the Wild Horse of Abaco (WHOA), a local organization in the Bahamas; and the U.S. based charity Arkwild.

Visitors to the Bahamas are welcome to tour the Abaco Wild Horse Preserve on the island of Great Abaco. Expect to do a bit of walking to reach the preserve, where you can observe and interact with the wild horses, bird watch, and hike along scenic logging roads and trails.

And don’t forget your swimsuit; you won’t want to miss an opportunity to swim and snorkel in the majestic blue holes and underwater caves that dot the island of Great Abaco.

-Laura Nazimiec

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